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Queen showed ‘power to lift everybody’ in wake of arena attack, NHS chief says

The Queen visits the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital to meet victims of the terror attack in the city (Peter Byrne/PA)
The Queen visits the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital to meet victims of the terror attack in the city (Peter Byrne/PA)

The Queen showed her “power to lift everybody” when she visited a hospital in the wake of the Manchester Arena terror attack, the chairwoman of an NHS trust has said.

Kathy Cowell, chair of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, will represent the region’s staff when she attends the state funeral on Monday.

Ahead of the ceremony, she shared memories of meeting the monarch in the aftermath of the terror attack in May 2017, when 22 people were killed after an Ariana Grande concert.

The Queen met staff and young casualties of the bombing when she visited Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital days after the incident.

Manchester Arena attack anniversary
The Queen speaking to Amy Barlow, 12, from Rawtenstall, Lancashire, and her mother, Kathy (Peter Byrne/PA)

Ms Cowell said: “The visit from the Queen at this terrible time showed her power to lift everybody – the patients, their families and our staff.

“Her empathy was so evident – this was not an easy visit for her to do, but she was so well received.

“One incident really summed things up for me. There was a young patient who was due for their operation, and who was so excited about meeting the Queen.

“As it happened, she was taken for surgery before Her Majesty arrived, so didn’t have the chance to meet her. The Queen was told about this and within days that young girl received a personal letter from Her Majesty.

“The Queen brought a compassionate sense of calm and order, and left everyone feeling valued. That gift was so much appreciated by patients, their families and staff at that terrible time.”

The Queen also visited the Central Manchester Hospitals site in 2012 as part of her Jubilee Tour.

Ms Cowell added: “I am humbled to have been asked to represent the NHS across Greater Manchester as we say farewell to a monarch who made such an incredible impact on us all.”

Royal visit to Manchester
The Queen waves during the official opening of the Central Manchester City Hospitals, Manchester (Heathcliff O’Malley/Daily Telegraph/PA)

Former patient Brooke Taylor was 10 when she met the Queen as she opened the revamped city hospitals site in 2012.

Now 21, Miss Taylor had been treated at the children’s hospital since being born with a rare pelvic tumour, and has since raised thousands of pounds for its charity.

She said: “The Queen asked me about being in hospital. She also asked about my experience of being a patient and was it a good hospital to be treated in.

“I remember saying to her I was part of the youth forum and I had done lots of fundraising to say thank you to everyone who had helped me.

“I remember not saying much to her as I was really nervous. Usually I can talk for England but I was a bit lost for words.

“She did help make me feel calmer though. She had a really calming effect on everyone.”

Gill Heaton, the deputy chief executive of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, also met the Queen in 2012.

She said: “She came to our group first, and I remember being struck by how petite she was, and what a beautiful smile she had.

“She was genuinely interested in what the staff did and what they had achieved for our patients.

“She was only able to spend a few minutes with our group, but every single member of staff told me afterwards how they felt she connected with them with meaningful conversations.

“She was incredibly good at putting people at ease, so that they could enjoy their conversations.”